Florida (17-4, 5-3) will take on the Kentucky Wildcats (15-4, 4-4) at the O’Connell Center Sunday January 31 at 1:00 PM.
Kentucky is coming off a tough 71-69 home loss to Vanderbilt while the Gators are looking to build off of their thrilling OT victory against Arkansas. The winner of this game will certainly be primed to make a run for the top of the SEC table up until the SEC tournament in the first week of March.
Gators head coach Amanda Butler is ready to face Kentucky’s fast-paced game. "They are very fast in transition and aren't any different from Kentucky, traditionally. [Kentucky guard] Makayla Epps is the trigger woman for them in getting things going. She's very difficult to guard in the open court. They do a really good job of playing fast. They are a great transition team,” Butler said.
Speaking of Epps, she’s averaging a spectacular 17.1 points per game and nearly averaging 5 rebounds and assists per game – 4.8 and 4.9, respectively.
The woman in charge of keeping Epps in check will be G Simone Westbrook, who leads the Gators in steals with 52. Westbrook is coming off of a great game against Arkansas where she scored 10 points, including the lay-up that sent the Gators into overtime against the Razorbacks.
Offensively, the Gators will look to G Carlie Needles, who leads the Gators in points per game in SEC contests (8.6 PPG). Needles is also knocking down 30.0% of her three-pointers in SEC games.
As for the environment, the Gators expect a good crowd on Sunday for their last event of the #UFillTheDome weekend. Florida is hoping to get 22,000 fans in the stands for the gymnastics meet Friday, the men’s basketball game Saturday, and the women’s basketball game Sunday.
Early Saturday morning, Coach Butler was outside the O’Dome advertising the “RUN WBK” t-shirts that will be given out to the first 500 fans in attendance. Butler and her staff were even handing out doughnuts to students waiting in line for the men’s game.
Players To Watch: Florida F Haley Lorenzen – She’s in the top 4 in points and rebounds on the Gators roster and has been a dominant force down low against Florida’s tough SEC opponents.
Kentucky G Janee Thompson – The quick guard dishes out assists left and right and still averages 12.5 points per game. The Gators can’t focus too much on Epps because Thompson is just as likely to take the game over.